First Impressions: Violet Evergarden

Synopsis:

Four years ago, in the continent of Telesis, the great war which split the North and South finally came to an end, with the people ready to embrace a new generation of prosperity and hope.

Violet Evergarden, a young woman who was once known as “The Weapon” has left her days of being on the battlefield behind, starting a new life working at the postal service. While working there, she becomes enthralled with the work of the “Auto Memory Dolls”, who possess the power to read people’s thoughts and turn them into words.

The story follows Violet as she works as an “Auto Memory Doll” herself, and comes face to face with the thoughts and emotions of various individuals, all the while discovering the meaning behind those emotions for herself.

Rating: 2/5

Impressions:

If there’s any show this season that could be considered a hot topic, it’s Violet Evergarden. Be it due to how well received its first episode is, or the fact that Netflix have once again held it hostage for absolutely no reason other than the plain, simple fact that they continue to have a poor understanding of what the Anime fandom wants, you’d hard pressed to argue otherwise.

Violet Evergarden is probably the most popular and discussed series to come out this season, and while I’d certainly love to get on board this hype train and fall in love with the show along with everyone else, it’s already proving to be a real struggle for me.

I think if I were to attempt to sum up exactly what my problem is in a single phrase, it’d likely be something along the lines of this:

I don’t “get” this show.

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Surprise, surprise!

By that, I mean, I don’t really understand what the big deal is.

Am I missing something? Did I not pay attention to what was going on enough? Because this first episode was actually a struggle to get through, and for me, in any Anime, no matter how bad it is, the first episode rarely ever manages to feel like a chore. I was falling asleep.

I mean, yeah. The animation is pretty great. Like all Kyoto Animation productions, the art style is nice, the character designs are lovely, the background art is visually stunning, creating a very well composed setting, and the animation is insanely good, with even subtle movements rivalling that of cinema quality Anime movies.

No matter how you slice it, even if you’re someone like me who’s not the biggest fan of aesthetic itself, you can’t really argue that Violet Evergarden looks absolutely spectacular on almost every conceivable front.

But what else is there?

It’s early days, being only the first episode, but I honestly couldn’t care about the narrative or its characters in the slightest so far. I’m not seeing anything particularly groundbreaking in terms of where this story is going, and while I have frequently said in the past that a story does not need to be groundbreaking or unique to be good, it’s all about the execution.

And in terms of execution, Violet Evergarden falls flat on its face.

This was a premiere episode where almost nothing of significance happened, outside of introducing some characters, showing a few flashbacks and kind of, sort of, having a small, but significant, thing happen at the end. I can’t tell you anything about the world of this story other than “some kind of war happened a while back”, and that’s a little sad.

It’s been a whole 24 minutes, and I can’t tell you the name of anyone in this show aside from Violet because her name is in the title. I don’t care because, so far, the show has given me very little reason to care.

It’s very early days, and I can more or less tell exactly where this story is going to go. It’ll likely be an episodic series, where Violet journey’s through the emotions and thoughts of various people, one or two per episode, and in the end she’ll come to understand what it means to love someone, or she’ll get a better grasp of human emotions in general. There’ll probably be some manipulative feels thrown in there and plenty more traumatic war flashbacks. There’ll be some great animation. I’m sure everyone will fall in love with it.

But if Violet Evergarden wants to impress me, it’s going to have to step up its game tenfold. I’ve seen many say that this series is Kyoto Animation’s attempt at stepping out of their comfort zone and trying to do something new, but in my eyes, this is just more of the same. There’s no school this time, and there’s no moe, but the core ideas behind it are no different than the usual effort I’ve come to expect from this studio.

Kyoto Animation already came out of their comfort zone when they did A Silent Voice, a movie which shattered every single piece of what many consider to be the very foundation of what “makes” a Kyoto Animation show, a Kyoto Animation show.

Violet Evergarden is far from Kyoto Animation’s best work.

Is it their best animated? Sure. But their best?

Not even close.

It’s not even the best show of the season, in my opinion.

Let’s hope the show gets better. I’m in the minority of people that can actually watch this show legally, thanks to where I live, so I’ll be keeping up to date with this one as it airs, week by week. I look forward to seeing how this develops, regardless of my fairly negative critique.

Feel free to butcher me in the comments.

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15 thoughts on “First Impressions: Violet Evergarden

  1. Haha😂😂 I would never ever butcher you: your posts are far too cool for that. I am also one that can see this show legally (and trust me when I say that where I live that is quite the rarity lol). I think exactly because I have no clue yet where this show is going that for the moment at least I am highly enjoying it. Having just finished a Korean drama series that started of so bad with the first two episodes that I nearly called it quits, it eventually turned into (I kid you not) the best Korean drama series that I have ever seen. So../as this one is starting of quite confusing as well, I am actually quite intrigued to find out more about where this is going. Hopefully it will be a beautiful show (the animation is spectacular), and one that will eventually grow to your liking as well 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why thank you Raistlin! 😀

      That’s very interesting, sometimes a show that is off to a bland start can wind up becoming the best of the best. There’s many shows that end up doing that, some of my favourites were the same!

      I hope it picks up! Let’s wait and see!

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I dissagree, but I commend you for putting your unfavourable opinion out there. I think VE has a lot going for it, yes its visuals are gorgeous, but so is its world. For what I’ve seen, Leiden is a prosperous city in a tropical climate, which is an amazing setting. We can see class society, perhaps colonialism, advanced technology when it comes to warfare, and all of this can be explored through the scenario you listled above. My hope for VE is that there’s a large focus on the world and the people in it aside from Violet, right now I can’t say whether that will actually be the case though. However from what I’ve seen in A Silent Voice, I think it’s safe to say that KyoAni can handle emotional stories filled with character development (even if it was occasionally aimed in the wrong direction in that film), so if it does end up being solely about Violet, the dead officer (Gillbert?) and the red haired one (yea you’re right about the names part but I kinda experience that with every first episode), then I’m sure they’ll still do a stellar job.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oooh. Blast reality!
        Vanishment, every other anime shows!

        (only Chuu-2 is left)

        Chuunibyou is the best!

        On a serious note: something about K-On makes me feel all warm. I think it is how the show is made — with care.
        It’s kinda like cooking in a way. You can have best of the best ingredients but if you don’t have the skill and knowledge then the dish would come out ew!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I definitely need to give K-On another shot in the near future, given how I wasn’t the biggest fan of it back when I first watched it (but I was an anti-moe ball of teenage rage and angst back then, so my opinion back then is hardly valid! 😛 )

          Hopefully I too can feel warm inside afterwards!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, Violet Evergarden is exploring a sense of loss. Violet losing her arms (a tangible reality) and the loss of being a use/tool to Major Gilbert (an intangible reality that Violet doesn’t know yet because she doesn’t know Gilbert is dead). Loss, whether that be emotionally or an actual physicality (which Violet is experiencing right now) tends to hit home with a larger audience. I relate to this anime because I have had several close friends of mine die. Not in the war like Major Gilbert per say, but that still doesn’t change the fact that these people who I once looked up to and spent many moments with were now gone. I think that’s what KyoAni is trying to play off of with Violet’s stoic personality. The Major was a HUGE part of her life, but now that she is without him she doesn’t really have a purpose. She is tool without a cause. This leaves her confused and she can’t quite grasp why Gilbert wanted her with the Evergarden family. And it is an even BIGGER challenge having to continue life with the ailment of losing both arms/hands and possibly the person you loved (we will have to see if Violet can find the meaning behind these emotions). I also really love the anime Natsuyuki Rendezvous, (even though many other people didn’t) because it tackles the hard question of “can you overcome the sense of loss, move on and be happy without the person you cherished the most?” I.e. almost the same concept here in Violet Evergarden. Sometimes you have to pull back an anime in layers and look past what is put in front of you. Maybe even see other people’s perspectives and ask them what their opinion is, because everyone looks at everything differently. That is why we are here! To discuss and learn about anime from each other ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, that’s actually a very interesting and unique take on the series that I didn’t even consider or read into all that much.

      Perhaps this premiere episode is due a second watch with these thoughts in mind.

      Thank you for sharing your very detailed and in depth perspective! I really appreciate it, despite our differences!

      Glad you’re enjoying the series! Here’s hoping it comes out on top for me in the end as well!

      Thanks for reading Ayano!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m 100% with you on the disappointment. The storytelling is just both incredibly hackneyed, yet simultaneously, weirdly obtuse. Is Violet a robot girl? Is that why she’s described as a “weapon” and befuddled by emotion? Or is it, as I’ve seen surmised elsewhere, that she’s a regular human suffering from PTSD?

    Are they keeping that information from us in order to show the “universality of love”? Or rather, because the writers and director just aren’t so great at this whole narrative thing?!

    And yes, of course it looks pretty, although I would argue that Hyouka looked just as beautiful, but combined the beauty of its animation with remarkable creativity in how it was used to convey emotions and thoughts. So far, to me, at least, Violet Everden’s visual splendor is as flat and lifeless as its characters and dialogue.

    Like

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